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Winter cold shouldn't stop you from playing outside

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Going in snow

What’s your favorite way to enjoy these colder days?

Some may downhill ski or snowboard. Ski areas across Montana offer package deals that include rental equipment, lessons and a lift ticket. It’s a great way to learn the sport and how to navigate the ski hill. Magic carpets now whisk newbies uphill. In the old days, youngsters had to try and figure out T-Bars, one way to yank you off your feet.

Sledding or tubing is something fun you can do almost anywhere there is a hill. Always be careful about where you go, though. You don’t want to run into trees or rocks. Hiking back uphill is good exercise and helps you stay warm on a cold day.

Ice skating at rinks is another fun winter sport. Or, if an adult first checks it out, you can skate on ponds, lakes and even some rivers. Add a few friends, some hockey sticks, a puck and a net and you can burn up some cabin fever in no time.

Cross country skiing is easy to learn, especially if you take lessons at one of the ski areas. Rentals can be found at some sporting goods stores. Once you get the basics down you can trek down closed forest roads or trails to explore.

Snowshoeing is another way to explore forest trails, closed roads and fields. You can rent these at sporting goods stores as well. The Montana Wilderness Association also hosts outings on trails, called Winter Walks, that provide a guided tour. Stay tuned for more details on these outings.

The easiest way to enjoy the beauty of winter is simply to take a walk. Make sure you bundle up well, with a warm hat, mittens, coat and boots. Insulated snow pants are also a good idea. On some snowy days, it can feel like you have the outdoors all to yourself as others stay inside.

To top off any of these adventures, have a cup of hot cocoa when you get home. If you have a fireplace or woodstove to warm up in front of, that’s even better. Enjoy the cold season!

— Brett French, french@billingsgazette.com

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